A case study in media bias

Wednesday, 13 July 2011 15:58

July 13, 2011

An analysis of “yellow journalism”

How biased reporting aids radical Islam: What we can learn from The Tennessean article

As we emailed you Monday, on Sunday The Tennessean newspaper ran a story by Bob Smietana that was so laced with lies, fabrications and distortions we determined we had no choice but to respond to it here.

The bigger picture than Smietana’s story is the lengths some in the media will go to in order to advance an agenda or a particular bias. Smietana’s story, the latest in a string of such stories he has written, is an excellent lesson for all of us in how “yellow journalism” operates with respect to the threat of radical Islam.

Two online dictionaries define “yellow journalism” as journalism that “exploits, distorts or exaggerates” or uses “unscrupulous methods.”

It is journalism driven by an agenda, that expresses itself by what it says, what it doesn’t say, how it says it, and the overall tone it attempts to create. It is journalism, not intended to report, but to SHAPE and INFLUENCE public opinion.

Here is what we can learn about the agenda driving Bob Smietana’s piece of yellow journalism and how it aided the advance of radical Islam.

 

(1)

 

It attempts to marginalize ACT! for America and its supporters by leading the reader to believe only “Bible Belt Christians” and “supporters of Israel” are drawn to the message of ACT! for America. You can almost see the disdain behind the phrase “Bible Belt Christians.” Not surprisingly, some of the comments about the article posted online dance to Smietana’s tune, accusing Christians of racism, hate, xenophobia, etc.

How Smietana would know who our message appeals to is a mystery. Did he take a poll? Did he talk to our members who live in other parts of the country? Of course not. He is making an unsubstantiated claim, stated as fact, because it fits the bigoted narrative about ACT! for America he is trying to peddle.

We know what Smietana doesn’t—we count among our members Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, and Christians; Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; conservatives, liberals, and moderates; straights, gays and lesbians.

 

(2)

 

The article deliberately, repeatedly and inaccurately characterizes ACT! for America as “anti-Islam.” The intent is obvious—to smear the organization as anti-freedom of religion and “Islamophobic.” It aids and abets Muslim Brotherhood organizations like CAIR. We aren’t holding our breath waiting for Smietana to write an investigative expose’ of CAIR.

Smietana ignores the fact that ACT! for America’s clearly stated mission is combating the ideology of radical Islam, and that the organization works with and promotes reformist Muslims who share ACT! for America’s opposition to sharia law, jihad, and the unification of mosque and state. If ACT! for America were “anti-Islam,” reformist Muslims wouldn’t work with this organization. Obviously, these facts do not fit Smietana’s narrative that he wants to paint, so he simply omits them.

 

(3)

 

Smietana uses the undefined “critics say” method to tar ACT! for America with an allegation that is false. He writes “Critics say ACT…labels law-abiding Muslims as terrorists.” Note he doesn’t provide a single example of a “critic” making such an allegation or provide a single example of ACT! for America labeling a law-abiding Muslim as a terrorist.

 

(4)

 

Smietana dismisses concerns about sharia law by the propaganda technique called an “appeal to authority,” quoting an “assistant professor of theology and Islamic studies,” Page Brooks. Brooks pooh-poohs concerns, stating that sharia law is nothing more than a guide to religious practices, such as “how to pray and what to eat…”

Brooks’ cavalier dismissal of concerns about sharia law reveals either ignorance or bias, or both. For instance, a 2009 Pew Research study found that 78% of Pakistanis supported the death penalty for “apostates” from Islam and 83% supported stoning adulterers—both penalties found in sharia law.

A recent study found 81% of a representative sample of mosques in America promoted material and speakers that advocated sharia law and jihad. These are hardly matters of minimal concern to be dismissed so cavalierly.


Even more galling is the fact that sharia law is oppressive of women. Many of the court cases in America where sharia law has been applied involve Muslim women fighting for their rights—and against sharia law—in disputes with Muslim men in matters such as child custody. As ACT! for America fights for laws prohibiting our courts from using sharia law in such decisions, we are actually helping protect Muslim women victimized by sharia law. That’s an odd thing for an “anti-Islam” group to do—but that, too, doesn’t fit Smietana’s fabricated narrative.

What’s more, the average reader doesn’t know that many, if not most, Islamic Studies and similar university departments in America have received large donations from Saudi Arabian sources, calling into question their objectivity. Even those that haven’t been funded with Saudi dollars typically toe the politically correct line regarding Islam.


Perhaps this kind of yellow journalism helps explain why The Nashville Scene posted on June 30th that The Tennessean had begun laying off staff. It would appear The Tennessean is struggling financially to stay afloat because it continues to lose subscribers.

If you are a subscriber to the paper, now would be an ideal time to contact the circulation department and cancel your subscription—and let them know you’ve had enough of the newspaper’s yellow journalism.

Vice President, Circulation- Jay Winkler

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